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The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  118 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Most people think that good grammar leads to good writing. But the truth is that while good writing may be technically correct, it's also strong, concise, and specific.

This guide identifies the seven writing weaknesses that editors everywhere must fix again and again; in fact, almost all of an editor's corrections on any piece of writing will come from the material covered
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Hardcover, 152 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Writer's Digest Books
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♥ Ibrahim ♥
Feb 25, 2015 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it it was amazing

This book will help somebody like me so that I can think English when I am doing English writing and not to fall into the trap of Arabic thought patterns. Whereas we are kings of wordiness and queens of redundancy in Arabic, not so in English. Good English writing has to be be concise. In Arabic, we learn toward nominalization. We might say:

Happiness was evident on the face of his Highness the king.

Good English writing would exhort us not to nominalize, but instead specify who is what and who di
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Tony Lindsay
Feb 23, 2016 Tony Lindsay rated it really liked it
This book is a GREAT tool for anywriter's toolbox.
Cécilia L.
Mar 08, 2014 Cécilia L. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-tips
Short but concise and very insightful.
Angie
Oct 22, 2015 Angie rated it it was ok
I was expecting this book to be better written. The lesson to learn here is this: just because someone is a great editor it doesn't necessarily make them a great writer. Sometimes your writing is too concise, Bonnie, and sometimes your sentences don't even connect to one another. I suspect what happened here is that after the writer, who is also an editor, edited her own work, she then had another editor come in and reduce it down even further. What remains after all this editing is a bunch of l ...more
Jing
Feb 12, 2010 Jing rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Writers who still want to learn
Recommended to Jing by: Becka Sutton
Shelves: writing
This book covers one of the most basic tools in learning how to write readable fiction; active voice. The author states that many writers use weak sentence structure and could benefit from her seven guidelines on how to write effective prose.

There are seven chapters plus an appendix of "writing misdemeanors". I found most of the value in the chapters and it touched on things I forgot or only use a little. Each chapter has an exercise that's helps you understand the topic. There is an answer key
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Irfan Mirza
Aug 07, 2012 Irfan Mirza rated it really liked it
Update August 7, 2012: Although the content of the book should allow a largely self taught author to feel satisfied with one's investment, of both time and money, but the most enjoyable part of the book remains the presentation of content. Whosesoever taste, the author or the publisher, in presentation and layout it reflects, the book, with its brilliant formatting, makes the whole process of knowledge acquisition an extremely enjoyable activity. It definitely offers a welcome respite from the g ...more
Ryan Dejonghe
Mar 10, 2014 Ryan Dejonghe rated it it was amazing
This isn't your typical English Grammar book. The author tries to enliven traditional rules by listing ten unforgivable crimes committed against the English language. She cross examines each heinous crime, such as Passive Voice and Nominalization, in thorough detail.

Do not expect to become a grammarian in one reading. Instead, I would recommend reading through the book once, but then keeping it available for quick reference access and future memory reinforcement.

The major downside of leaving a
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Justin Rose
Apr 27, 2015 Justin Rose rated it it was amazing
I checked out this book from the library, but have decided to purchase a copy for my own bookshelf. This book is useful and enjoyable. At work I started rewriting the Unit Rules. Someday I'm going to dig out my old Pinkerton Officer's Book and see if they did any better than Detective Pinkersolve. The Curious Case is enjoyable because the stories and examples are consistently crime solving in nature, yet never patronizing.
Guido Henkel
Jun 09, 2010 Guido Henkel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bonnie Trenga's book was a nice little refresher and also offers up very helpful tips for your everyday writing.

In her introduction she says that as a professional book editor she keep encountering the same errors and problems over and over again and decided to write this book in response. I am glad she did, because it gave me the chance to examine my own writing a little more critically and see if I have been falling into the same pitfalls as the countless writers she's been dealing with.

The st
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Anita
Yes, this is a grammar book. Yes, I read it for school. Yes, I liked it. In fact, this is one of the best improve-your-writing books (correctly placed hypens) I've read. It is fun, gives good tips, and even better, has exercises to help you practice what you've learned. Okay, I realize that might not be for everybody, but this was a pleasant surprise for me. We are so impressed at school that we are going to be writing some curriculum for our students using this book. Ms. Trenga not only sold me ...more
Amy
May 16, 2009 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: language, writing
Trenga uses detective stories throughout this book to illustrate common mistakes people make that weakens their writing. The detective stories drag somewhat because they are all poorly written to illustrate her point, and the reader is supposed to rewrite them after learning how to improve them. Her advice is accurate and nuanced enough to prevent students from overfixing in their attempts to improve their writing. I would recommend this highly to be used as part of a writing class. Trenga's adv ...more
Sweetp-1
Nov 05, 2010 Sweetp-1 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm doing Nano and I wanted to grab a book about writing from the library today. Everything looked incredibly daunting! This one caught my eye and it was exactly what I was looking for - quick read, unpretentious style, good use of examples, interesting format (loved the detective stories and the rap sheet). Nice timely reminder on how to keep your writing interesting (though probably not as useful if you are looking for a grammar guide.)
Adam
Apr 08, 2012 Adam rated it it was ok
That it was short and to the point was the main reason I continued reading. Trenga gives advice on how to avoid and fix the most common grammatical "mistakes" that she encounters as a copywriter, but it was so basic. Advice included making sure to avoid too much use of the passive voice, and making sure not to be ridiculously wordy. Not so insightful, but could be more helpful to someone who wasn't already interested in grammar.
Heather
Feb 02, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
As a high school English teacher, I found this book incredibly helpful! It gave me a different perspective and refreshing view on something that is normally quite bland and boring. I immediately took notes and turned them into a PowerPoint list of reminders for students who are repeat offenders to the common writing errors discussed in the book. An excellent tool for writers, teachers, and editors.
Laura
Jul 30, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
It's a good idea, but maybe the task of making a English stylebook interesting is too big a task. The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier is a safe wade back into improving your writing for one long out of school and, when you decide to get serious, an ease into the perennial standard Strunk & White's Elements of Style.
Monica
Mar 22, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it
Great book for learning how to vary your sentences when writing. She advises against using passive voice to the point of being vague. However, she does advise that it is ok to use passive voice sometimes, you just have to determine when it's appropriate. I wish this book had been longer with better examples.
Brently
I agree with most of what the author says in the book, but found it way too elementary. I would recommend this only to anyone who struggled through junior high school language arts or who has at best a poor to non-native grasp of English grammar and composition.
Katherine
Aug 26, 2011 Katherine rated it did not like it
Shelves: secondary
I kept trying, but just could not enjoy this book. Maybe for someone who is more grammar-focused, this book would be a delight. But for me it was a drudgery. I finally made it through the whole thing. Whew! I think I'll stick to fiction.
d
Oct 06, 2013 d rated it it was amazing
This book is great! Each chapter explains a writing guideline and suggestions for stronger writing, along with a poorly written mini-mystery for the student to re-write. It really helps them understand the concepts.
Karen
Jun 12, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing
Witty and informative. Perfect for anyone wanting to improve their writing.
Cathrine Bonham
Aug 03, 2012 Cathrine Bonham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writers-help
It's the entertaining way to learn all of those boring grammar rules that your English teacher kept hit you over the head with.
Denise
Mar 15, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing
A really great book that covers all the grammatical mistakes that we commonly make, it was extremely helpful.
Yvonne
Jan 28, 2009 Yvonne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strengthen your writing and have an enjoyable read while learning grammar and word usage.
Gato
Jun 16, 2013 Gato rated it really liked it
Good book on making writing better.
Ava Adorkable
Ava Adorkable marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2016
Kena R Douglas-Wright
Kena R Douglas-Wright rated it it was amazing
Jun 26, 2016
Scott
Scott rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2016
Duce
Duce rated it really liked it
Jun 20, 2016
Evan Magelssen
Evan Magelssen rated it liked it
Jun 14, 2016
Rhonda Spor
Rhonda Spor marked it as to-read
Jun 11, 2016
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